The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets and enforces working standards to ensure the safety and health of employees. The regulations are put in place to help monitor working conditions throughout the country. Many jobs place workers in hazardous conditions. The OSHA, in turn, tries to prevent unnecessary hazards and dangers from placing workers at risk.
OSHA examines companies through constant monitoring and controlling to check for willing or unwilling violations.
Below we have outlined the difference between citations and violations, explained the different violations and their accompanying penalties, and related some of the most common violations to help you understand OSHA fines, citations, and violations in 2021.
Citations vs. violations
OSHA violations result in a penalty in the form of a fine. However, if the violation does not put your employees at risk, the agency will typically give you a citation rather than a penalty. However, companies should not take any citation received for an OSHA violation lightly. Citations serve as warnings, signaling the employer to take action to resolve the violation. Each OSHA citation a company receives includes the date it must resolve the issue. When a company receives an OSHA citation, it is not a severe violation. It will be added to the company’s safety record when repeated.
Types of OSHA violations
Each OSHA violation results in a different penalty. Here are each of the six violations spelled out:
Serious: A serious violation is when an owner or manager is aware of a workplace hazard that could potentially result in injury and death but does nothing to resolve it. The fine is related to the seriousness of the violation.
Minimum to Maximum Fine: $964 to $13,653 per violation
Other-Than-Serious: If the violation doesn’t result in an injury or death but presents a health or safety concern, it’s considered an other-than-serious threat. The maximum fine for this violation is the same as serious violations. However, if the violation is a minimal-only violation, it is typically accompanied by only a warning.
Minimum to Maximum Fine: $0 to $13,653 per violation
Willful or Repeated: Companies incur stricter penalties reaching up to more than $136,000 for repeated violations, meaning they repeat a violation within a three-year period. On the other hand, willful violations occur when the employer is aware of a risk posed to their employees but doesn’t do anything to remove the risk. This type of violation is taken more seriously and results in hefty fines.
Minimum to Maximum Fine: $963 to $136,532 per violation
Posting Requirements: If a company has received a citation or committed a violation, they must post the notice in the area where the incident occurred. OSHA requires companies to post OSHA citations and violations notices so employees can read them.
Minimum to Maximum Fine: $0 to $13,653 per violation
Failure to Abate: The employer is subject to being fined the maximum amount possible if they do not resolve the safety violation by the specified date.
Minimum to Maximum Fine: $13,653 per day past the abatement date
De Minimum Violation: The least severe of all the potential violations, the OSHA will issue a verbal warning, citation, or notice when a specific requirement is not technically compliant. OSHA will make a note in your safety file, but most of the time, there will not be any penalties.
Most common violations
Some OSHA violations occur more frequently than others. Luckily, most violations are easy to fix.
● Fall Protection in Construction: Construction zones present numerous hazards. Because of this fact, OSHA regulates that employers maintain clean and dry floors to prevent falls and similar accidents. Workers are also required to receive training and protective gear.
● Hazard Communications in General Industry: Chemical producers and importers must evaluate and document any hazards related to its product. Transported chemicals require accompanying labels and datasheets. MSDS expiry dates must also be up to date.
● Scaffolding General Requirements in Construction: Again, construction environments naturally pose significant risks. In response, OSHA is strict about enforcing workers to wear approved fall protection gear whenever using a scaffold, which the company must provide. Additionally, scaffolding stability requires regular inspections. Employers cannot exceed specific weight limits of workers on scaffolding. Working materials onsite require containment. There are also laws dictating where the scaffold can be placed, varying by state.
OSHA regulations FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding OSHA fines, citations, and violations:
● Are employees susceptible to a fine?
No, the OSHA does not issue fines to employees. They hold the employer responsible for any workplace safety violations. If the employer does not provide a safe and healthy job site, then they will be held liable for any violations and not the employee involved in the incident.
● Where do the funds from OSHA fines go?
There are no rewards or compensation paid to OSHA to issue fines to fund the agency and its operating expenses. Rather, all collected fines are sent directly to the U.S. Treasury’s general fund.
● Are incurred fines tax deductible?
Fines or penalties because of violating the law are not eligible for a tax deduction.
● Is it possible to reduce OSHA violations?
One way to prevent violations is to inspect your company and look for any blatant OSHA violations. Companies should also refer to their employees as they have experience onsite and possibly see managers do not. Another method is using professional safety management services to help you monitor and resolve any potential OSHA violation.